A Flood of Federal Takings

When is Flooding a Federal Taking?

Flooding can be considered a Federal Taking only in certain situations. First, the flooding has to be severe enough that it prevents the full use of one’s property. Second, and most importantly, the flood has to be caused by an action the federal government took.

Hurricane Harvey and Federal Takings

Hurricane Harvey is a great example of flooding as a Federal Taking. During Hurricane Harvey, water levels in the reservoirs behind dams filled much faster than expected, and a decision was made to release water from the reservoirs to prevent more flooding in the City of Houston. But, this decision caused thousands of homes to flood. Officials allowed approximately 14,000 homes to be built inside the reservoirs, which normally remain dry. The dams were built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940’s, and by the 1970’s they were aware that flooding from the dams could impact the homes that were rapidly being built in the reservoir, but they chose not to purchase the land to prevent the flooding of private property. What makes this a Federal Taking is that the dams and reservoirs were built with the knowledge and intention that private land would flood if and when water needed to be discharged. 

In a different case, the Supreme Court ruled that flooding can be a Federal Taking if the government takes, without compensation, a flowage easement. A flowage easement is when the government has the right to overflow, flood, or submerge a portion of private property, subject to fair compensation.

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Find Out If You Have a Claim

The federal government may owe you money for a flood that impacts your property. If the government’s actions led to you being unable to use your property, you may have a Federal Takings case. These cases can be heard in the Court of Federal Claims, where mctlaw specializes in trying cases. Takings claims can be complicated, and you’ll need an advocate on your side. Our experienced federal takings attorneys can help you seek compensation for flood-related federal takings. Talk to our attorneys for a free consultation about your potential claim.


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